Ep. 14: Sharwin Tee - Ever-Curious Traveling Chef, Cooking Show Host, and Writer

Chef Sharwin Tee is the chef and host of Curiosity Got the Chef, The Philippines’ Lifestyle Network’s first locally-produced cooking show. The show features Sharwin traveling to international and domestic locations in order to find new ingredients, techniques and inspirations for new dishes. It’s also in its sixth season, making it the longest running Filipino cooking show on cable television broadcast all over the world.

Sharwin graduated from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, Canada and came into prominence after winning a reality cooking competition called “The Clash of the Toque-en Ones” back in 2010.  Sharwin is extremely prolific and has done far more than just host a TV show.  He’s taught English, cooked for celebrities and dignitaries all over the world from Abu Dhabi to Moscow, Chicago to San Francisco, owned a restaurant, and published a book.

This episode peels the curtains back on an aspect of the food industry that many of us equate with glamor and ease when it’s really a lot of work.  If it came down to one thing…this episode is really about the value of curiosity and understanding “why" and how it aids in pursuing your dreams, coming up with new ideas, cultivating humility, and creating commitment.

We also talk about:
- His experiences on the road and the difficulties of being “on set”
- The responsibility of the chefs/writers/diners in the food ecosystem…especially given the rise of social media where everyone feels like they’re a critic now
- The surprising similarities between Filipino and Senegalese cuisine
- His menu creation process
- What he'd cook for President Rodrigo Duterte


6:50 - On why Sharwin doesn’t tell people he’s on TV
7:30 - Wok with Yan (Stephen Yan is NOT related to Martin Yan)
8:20 - On wanting to be a cooking show host…and why you SHOULDN’T do it (at first)
10:35 - Nora Daza
11:40 - Before being a chef was a “real job"
     13:45 - On feeding people before trying to save the world
     *(taga-luto / kusinero are Filipino terms for cooks.  Usually implying lowly status)
     15:50 - On what drew Sharwin to entertaining people through food
17:50 - On Sharwin’s curiosity and the value of understanding “Why"
19:20 - On the dangers of culinary school hubris and needing to cook for your audience
22:30 - The futility of "accounting for taste” and how you can never know what a person really “likes"
     23:10 - The surprising similarities between Senegalese and Filipino food: lumpia and kare-kare
     24:50 - We’re not all that different from each other // How tonkotsu broth united people
29:25 - Filipino food was ALWAYS farm-to-table and cooking local // how colonization erased our culinary roots
33:25 - Chef Tatung and how/why Filipino dishes are named (by method)
34:40 - The American home economics movement
36:00 - “Aha moments" on the road
37:55 - Muslim Filipino dining customs and more proof we’re all the same
39:50 - How the perception around Filipino food has changed over time
     42:05 - Chef Laudico and modern Filipino cuisine
     42:55 - Pino by Chef Edward
     43:30 - Locavore, Jordy Navarra and his Filipino degustation, Amy Besa     
     44:00 - The origins of Kamayan Dining (eating food without utensils): the Boodle Fight
     45:55 - Sarsa by JP Anglo
46:55 - Misconceptions around being a food show host
49:55 - Why Sharwin bothers // On storytelling
52:30 - Questions to ask when learning an unfamiliar cuisine/culture: How & Why?
57:15 - A Day in the Life of Sharwin
1:00:15 - “The Murderer Known as Truth” // the responsibilities of the Chefs, Writers, and Diners to each other and why we should be careful about what we say/write
1:04:35 - Sharwin’s recipe development process
1:11:45 - #40DishesForBea
1:14:05 - Cooking for


Rapid Fire:
Most Influential Person: Nora Daza (first Filipina to have a cooking show, first Filipina restaurateur in Paris, FR, owner of a Filipino restaurant in NYC called Maharlika way back when)
Most Useful Tool: offset spatula
3 Ingredients That Describe Sharwin: Bagoong (fermented fish paste), Egg, Siling Labuyo (extremely spicy Filipino chili cultivar)
Resource for the Common Person: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
One Line Message: “Just do your thing”

The Food Lab by J. Kenji-Alt
On Food & Cooking by Harold McGee


Dishes, Recipes, & Ingredients:
Roasted Pork with Charcutière Sauce – Sauce Espagnole w/ Mustard and Cornichons
Tonkotsu Broth – Pork Bone Broth
Xiao Long Bao – Soup-filled Dumplings
Demi-glace – Rich brown sauce
Bulalo – Beef soup with shanks and bone marrow
Filipino Menudo – Pork Stew with Chickpeas, Roots, and Tomato Sauce
Piniritong Isda – Fried Fish
Kare-Kare – Oxtail Stew in Peanut Sauce
Sorol – Native Filipino chicken stewed with coconut milk, chili leaves, peppers, and Mexican oregano
Adobo – Vinegar-braised meats sometimes flavored with soy sauce, native salts, coconut milk, pineapple juice, and pepper
Sinigang – Sour Filipino soup sometimes flavored with tamarind
Sinina – Muslim Mindanaoan Goat Stew
Kare-Kareng Bagnet – Kare-Kare using Crispy Pork Belly
Budae Jjigae – Korean “Army Base Stew” using kimchi, Spam, ramen, sausage, rice cakes, and even cheese
Oyster Velouté – A light fish/chicken-based sauce thickened with a blond roux
Monggo – Mung Beans
Dashi – Japanese cooking stock/broth
Batuan – Sour fruit used in flavoring Filipino dishes, especially those in the Visayan regions


Website: sharwintee.com
Twitter: @chefsharwin
Instagram: @chefsharwin
FB: Chef Sharwin Tee
Show: “Curiosity Got the Chef” on the Lifestyle Network every Sun. @ 9 PM (TFC, Lifestyle.TV)